In the 1920s, prohibition was put into effect. No one was allowed to consume, sell, or transport alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was meant to help Americans better themselves physically and emotionally. It was also meant to decrease crime rate and reduce taxes on jails and poorhouses. Prohibition was the government’s way of attempting to purge moral failings. Prohibition was indeed a failure.
In David E. Kyvig’s article, he argues that prohibition was in fact a failure. Kyvig states that, “While in reality national prohibition sharply reduced the consumption of alcohol in the United States, the law fell considerably short of expectations. It neither eliminated drinking nor produced a sense that such a goal was within reach” (200). Kyvig explains how the government had a noble way of thinking but did not see what was coming with the evolution of prohibition. The government was overwhelmed with all of the ...view middle of the document...
For example, during the 1920s, fewer people were arrested for public drunkenness, and there were substantially fewer Americans treated for alcohol-related diseases” (190).
Although both of the articles make valid points, I have to agree with Kyvik. I do not think that prohibition was a success. The government had very noble reasons and high expectations that it would actually better the American population. “When the Eighteenth Amendment took effect on January 17, 1920, most observers assumed the liquor would quickly disappear from the American scene” (191). People are going to do what they want to do regardless of what the government says. Even though the government told people not to drink, bootleggers found ways to supply and people found ways to drink. People always find a way to get what they want. If you tell someone not to do something, it is only going to make them want to do it more. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Enforcing prohibition was a failure because not only did it do the complete opposite of what the government thought it would do, but it completely backfired. “They did not realize that the law would be resented and resisted by sizeable elements in an increasingly urban and heterogeneous society where restraints on the individual were becoming far less compelling” (191). The crime became organized and there was more crime than ever before. Jails filled up because so many people were getting caught with alcohol. “During 1929, 75,298 prohibition cases alone were concluded. In 1920, federal prisons contained just over 5,000 inmates; ten years later they contained over 12,000, more than 4,000 of whom were serving time for liquor violations” (197). Prohibition also led people to depend on other things, such as drugs, to substitute for alcohol.
Prohibition was a failure because nothing worked out the way it was supposed to and people are going to drink no matter what, but too many people let alcohol consume their lives. Because of alcohol, people lose sense of who they are, go to jail, die, or even kill someone else. Although prohibition was a complete failure, the lessons of Prohibition are still very important today.